AP Images/Dough McSchooler
A week from now, the league will be locked into Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the Oakland Raiders will have already selected their first-round pick the day prior, and shifted their attention to other positions that need addressing later in the draft.
Friday, NFL Network Draft Analyst Mike Mayock hopped on a conference call with media members across the league to answer questions regarding several players in this year’s draft class. With the No. 10 overall pick, the Silver and Black will have a wide selection of prospects to choose from, all with impressive résumés.
One of the Raiders’ areas of need the past few years has been the defense, and Mayock believes there’s a good chance General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jon Gruden will target the defensive side of the ball with the top-10 pick; however, we all know McKenzie loves to fortify the trenches, and Mayock sees a scenario in which the team could bolster the line with a young offensive tackle.
“The only offensive player I would have ranked anywhere near that high would be Mike McGlinchey, the tackle, who I think fits a need for Oakland because Donald Penn is going to be 35 years old, and you've got a lot of money invested in that offensive line,” Mayock said. “McGlinchey would be a natural.”
There are a ton of avenues McKenzie and Gruden could go down in the first round, and the addition of another quality offensive lineman would certainly aid quarterback Derek Carr. With so many quarterbacks projected to go within the first five picks, there will be several “special players”, as Mayock refers to them, available at No. 10.
“The way I look at Oakland early in the Draft is at 10, if four quarterbacks go in front of them, they're sitting in a pretty good place,” he explained.
With that being said, linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith have created a lot of buzz with their freakish athletic abilities, and upside in general. In free agency, the Raiders sought out a mix of linebackers, adding Tahir Whitehead to the group, but they also signed some new members of the secondary with the additions of Marcus Gilchrist and Rashaan Melvin as well. All are savvy veterans who have been in the league for a good amount of time, but Gruden is adamant about creating competition among his players, and adding some young blood to both groups could do just that.
“I think on the defensive side, there's a bunch of playmakers that are considered top ten picks that could fit in with them,” Mayock said. “[Bradley] Chubb will be gone. I think the two insider linebackers, Roquan Smith is outstanding. I think Edmunds from Virginia Tech is outstanding. Both safeties, [Minkah] Fitzpatrick and [Derwin] James, are unbelievable.”
Obviously whoever the Raiders select with their first pick will affect the rest of the first round, and it’s possible the team could find some productive players in the later rounds. Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia has already made an impact in free agency, and Mayock expects him to play a significant role in who the Raiders target in rounds six and seven.
“LSU's got a wide receiver named Russell Gage, who pretty much nobody has ever heard of, yet when I went to their Pro Day about three weeks ago, I had three different special teams coaches call me before I got to Baton Rouge and said you better check out this Russell Gage, who I knew little to nothing about,” Mayock said.
“I guarantee you Rich Bisaccia and every other special teams coach in the league is banging the table for this kid going, give him to me. He's going to be a core cover guy in special teams… So it's hard to give you exact names and positions they're [Raiders] going to target. It depends what they hit in the first two rounds, but at the end of the day, expect Bisaccia and the special teams guys to play a big role in it.”
McKenzie and Gruden have a plan, and while we don’t know what that plan is, one thing we know for certain is that they’re going to select players that will make the roster better than it was in 2017. The No. 10 pick is anyone’s guess, but Mayock believes whoever the Raiders draft will be an impressive talent.